September 13, 2012

5 powerful ways to improve your website’s SEO

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Why optimizing your website for search is key

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, Web publishers.

John HaydonThere are many ways to drive traffic to your website, including email marketing, social media and traditional PR. While these approaches are useful and effective, they all share one critical weakness:

You’re reaching people who weren’t looking for you.

Why SEO is an absolute must for your nonprofit

Optimizing your website for search allows you to reach people precisely when they are looking for you!  This means that they’re probably more likely to donate, volunteer, or join an email list. With this in mind, following are five ways to increase your website’s search engine optimization (SEO).

Understand how your supporters search for your cause

1Enter the keywords you’ve decided on in Google, and notice what Google suggests as you type (as shown below).  Write your title with these words – in the same order they appear.

When people use Google Instant and select what Google suggests, your website will show up in those results. You can also do more research with the Google External Keyword Tool.

Also study how your current supporters talk about your cause at events, on Facebook and on Twitter. Notice the lack of jargon used in your board meeting?

Understand how browsers see your website

2Once you understand how people are searching for your cause, you need to understand how search engines display your website in those search results. Check your website with and get all sorts of useful information about how your site is indexed (shown below).

Put your keywords toward the beginning of your page titles

3Put the keyword you wish to rank for toward the beginning of your title. In doing this, you will optimize how you’re found via Google Instant, and when you do show up, users will more easily notice your title as they scan down the results.

Keep your titles short

4You don’t want your title to appear incomplete, and you certainly don’t want your keywords cut off by search engines! Keep your title under 60 characters. Most search engines will only recognize up to 60 characters and truncate the rest, like the example below.

Create killer content

5Always remember to put your readers first. When you do this, you will naturally increase the number of inbound links from other websites, along with the number of shares on Facebook and Google Plus. Search engines use this information to assess how valuable a piece of content is. When you put readers first, you’ll also optimize your articles with keywords in a way that’s natural – not forced.

In the next installment of this series we’ll talk about making your website more social. If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to the series here.John Haydon delivers social web strategy solutions for “the quick, the smart, and the slightly manic.” Curious? Then visit the John Haydon blog, follow him on Twitter or leave a comment.

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7 thoughts on “5 powerful ways to improve your website’s SEO

  1. Hi John, I work for a non-profit and I can certainly make use of some of these tips. I think it’s also important to check Google Analytics to find out what people who come to your site are searching for.
    In our case, we sell some technical documents, and it turns out that an overwhelming number of searches are for “free” documents. My suggestion was to offer some portion of the document for free just so people could find what they are looking for. At least that keeps people on the site longer and gives them a taste of what they are in search of. 

    •  @Ileane That sounds like a very smart idea! You could also use free content to build an email list, and then sell documents via email, which might have a higher conversion ratio than people finding from search or social media.

  2. I think that keyword density still plays a major role in most search engines. So make sure the Title, description, and content has relevant keywords in them.